Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"The Avengers" Assemble at New York Comic Con.

Left to right: Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Tom Hiddleston (Loki),
Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson),
Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk), and Marvel's President, Kevin Feige.
The most talked about panel at New York Comic Con was undoubtedly "Marvel StudiosMarvel's The Avengers." In what is sure to be one of the most anticipated movies of 2012, "The Avengers," modeled after the similarly-titled Marvel comics, will bring together favorite Marvel superheroes such as "Captain America" and "Iron Man," in an action-packed, star-studded adventure to "avenge" the Earth from invaders. As "Tony Stark/Iron Man" (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) says in the movie's first official trailer, "if we can't protect the Earth, you can be damn sure we'll avenge it." Due out in May 2012, the movie is co-written and directed by Joss Whedon (known for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Dollhouse," "Firefly"/"Serenity," and "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," to name a few).

In addition to the actors who attended Comic Con, shown in the picture above, the ensemble cast of "The Avengers" will include Scarlett Johansson as "Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow," Samuel L. Jackson as "Nick Fury," "Chris Hemsworth" as "Thor," Jeremy Renner as "Clint Barton/Hawkeye," Gwenyth Paltrow, reprising her role, for the third time, as "Tony Stark's" doting assistant, "Pepper Potts," and many more familiar faces.

The Saturday evening Comic Con panel began with a premiere of the trailer above, and was the first time that "The Avengers" trailer had been shown to the public on a large screen. Attendees were also treated to a lengthy clip of never-before-seen footage from the movie, focusing on how "Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk" (played by Mark Ruffalo) is brought into the Avengers group.  We were asked to keep any spoilers "secret," but a decent Google search will reveal that fanboys (and girls) are not very good at keeping secrets, despite Ruffalo's warnings that disseminating any information might "make [him] angry." Even Ruffalo himself, who was a "surprise" guest at the panel, was seeing the finished footage for the first time. All I will say is that the combination of the trailer, the footage, and the personal thoughts of the actors and Marvel's President, Kevin Feige, who also sat on the panel, has reinforced that I am exceptionally excited for this movie.

During the panel, actor Chris Evans, who plays "Steve Rogers/Captain America," suggested that the movie's creators would like to see "The Avengers" become a franchise, with future "Avenger" movies to follow. "The Avengers" itself already falls on the heels of two "Iron Man" movies (2008 and 2010, with a third planned for 2013) and the summer 2011 releases of "Thor" and "Captain America." Having also played "Johnny Storm/The Human Torch" in the 2005 Marvel movie, "Fantastic Four" and its 2007 sequel, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," Evans admitted that he liked playing "Captain America"better.

Cobie Smulders, who plays "S.H.I.E.L.D." agent, "Maria Hill," described how the costume designers for "The Avengers" worked hard to stay true to the wardrobes of the superhumans in the comics, and produced intricate designs for each character that were remarkably similar to those portrayed in the comics. "The Avengers" will be Smulder's first action movie, as she is most known for her role as "Robin Scherbatsky," aka "Robin Sparkles," on CBS TV's hit comedy, "How I Met Your Mother." Smulders, who laughingly refused to sing HIMYM's "Let's Go To The Mall," talked about how physically demanding her role as "Agent Maria Hill" was compared to her sitcom character, and she told the audience that the most exciting part of the movie for her was being able to work with Joss Whedon.

At least one of the actors did break into song. At the request of the panel's moderator, actor Clark Gregg, who plays "Agent Phil Coulson," sang the theme song for "The Avengers" for the crowd, as he had apparently been continuously doing backstage.

Another great treat that came out of "The Avengers" panel was the creation of the word "Ruffalized." As Tom Hiddleton, who plays "Loki" in the movie, was describing a fight scene between his character and "The Incredible Hulk," he noted that he gets "Ruffalized" by the "Hulk," referring to actor, Mark Ruffalo. As predicted by the panelists, "Ruffalized" quickly made its way into Urban Dictionary, defined as getting one's "ass kicked."

When asked by the moderator how he approached the role of "Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk," Mark Ruffalo explained that he drew inspiration from "Hulks" past, including actors Bill Bixby, Eric Bana and Edward Norton. Interestingly, the 2012 "Avengers" movie will be the first time on-screen that the same actor plays both the roles of "Bruce Banner" and "The Incredible Hulk," as the technology available at earlier times was not sufficient to create the right likeness. For an unexplained reason though, Lou Ferrigno will still voice "The Incredible Hulk." (I'm also not sure why Ruffalo did not include Ferrigno in his list of inspiring "Hulk" actors).

The panel ended by taking questions from the audience. The first inquirer was a cute little boy who asked to actors to all say "Avengers Assemble," which they did, driving the already giddy crowd wild. Another audience member asked each panelist to name his or her favorite male and female superheroes. The results were as follows:
Chris Evans' favorite male superhero was "Iron Man," because he was not born with his powers, but had to work for them. Evans' favorite female superhero was "Agent Maria Hill." "Hill" was also the female favorite of just about every other panelist, although Ruffalo and Gregg also noted enjoying "Black Widow." Ruffalo and Feige both chose "Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk" as their favorite male superheroes, and Smulders named "Iron Man." One of the last to respond, Hiddleston chose "Thor" as his favorite superhero, noting that he felt like his "brother" had been left out.  (Does anyone else notice some bias in these answers? Note, the question did not limit the panelists to "The Avengers" movie or even to Marvel superheroes...).

"The Avengers" panelists respond to questions from the panel moderator.

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